A new water feature planned to be installed at an historic landmark to celebrate 50 years of two organisations in the county town has suffered a setback.

As previously reported, Dorchester Civic Society, Dorchester Town Council have held meetings with Wessex Water to explore the possibility of returning water to the town pump at Cornhill.

This is a project to commemorate both organisation's fiftieth anniversaries.  

It has been confirmed that the Town Pump that had been used centuries earlier can be brought back into operation, although not as a source of drinking water at this time.

The responsibility of maintaining the water quality would fall on Dorchester Town Council, which would have to test the quality regularly to ensure the water is safe to drink.

The town council currently does this with the water supply in Borough Gardens. 

Erected in 1784, the pump is situated on the site of the town’s former Market House and is a Grade II listed building.

It is thought that the water supply at the pump was switched off sometime during the 1940s as the top of South Street became busier, along with the availability of cars.  

A spokesperson for Wessex Water, said: “While we are able to bring the pump back into operation, there would need to be rigorous testing in place to ensure the drinking water quality regulations are met.

“We therefore would not be able to support it as a source of drinking water.

“However, we have installed a popular tap water refill point in South Street which has been in use since 2021.

“This is tested, cleaned and maintained regularly to ensure it meets the strictest water quality standards.”

At the time of writing, it is not clear how the project will be funded, or how much it will cost. Plans for the feature include a drinking fountain and a smaller basin below to allow water access for animals- which is currently being designed.

Ian Gosling, chair of the Dorchester Civic Society, said: “We’ve received a reply in writing from Wessex Water who are prepared to do the work with tests in water quality from the town council.

”An issue has been the design of the basin, as the town pump is a listed building and as such needs consent surrounding additions to the site to keep it with the eighteenth century style.”

Steve Newman, town clerk for Dorchester Town Council, said: “The Dorchester Joint Heritage Committee was supportive of the project when it met in April. The council’s Management Committee will be considering the proposal in detail when it meets next month.”